My Thoughts on ‘Pacific Rim’
By Veronica Nkwocha
Pacific Rim is an apocalyptic tale from acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro. It is set in a future where strange beasts called Kaijus morphed out of a fissure on the seabed at the points where the tectonic plates shift bent on the annihilation of Man. They are met in epic battles by robots called Jaegers who fight them off time after time using twin drivers as pilots, their minds locked together via a mental bridge. The Jaegers are led by General Stacker Pentecost played by Idris Elba. He wore a stern and calculating demeanour and a tenacious belief in the effectiveness of the army of Jaegers and the machinery that supported them. Would they succeed?
Pacific Rim lived up to its hype. The Jaegers were colossal yet graceful, they did what they were designed to do; battle like warriors. The Kaijus were the object of the fight but the real enemy lay behind the scenes. The portal was a signal to another world which Man should have been striving to target from the start but as in life, a lot of energy was expended on the visible threat rather than what lay underneath, growing, transforming and near overwhelming earth. Every bolt, every screw, even the chips in the paint, the rusting hulk of the machinery even as the Jaegers were nearly being retired was shown with crisp cinematography.
I particularly liked the progression of the story, it was fluid up till the final climax where the final battle was fought deep within the waters of the ocean. I did wonder what happened to most of the sea life though, they seemed to have made a massive retreat in anticipation of the chaotic mangling in their front yard.
The choice of Jaegers as the proper fighting tool against the Kaijus was fun to watch and made the movie but why would the weapon of choice be a wrestling bout rather than a far off attack using long range missiles? Pacific Rim allowed us witness the heaving and trashing of ‘gladiators’ as they duelled, some to their death, a fascination of Man since time immemorial. We have come a long way from the days when all we had were two men in a ring fighting for a cheering audience. Today, we have robots the size of the’ Statue of Liberty’ and Kaijus the size of ‘tower blocks’, the arena we all sit around are cinemas, popcorn in hand satisfying a craving for duel as long as we are not in the thick of it.
The much anticipated Andre Rieu’s Maastricht Concert 2013 holds 12-14th July at the Vrijthof square in his hometown Maastricht. They are yearly traditional summer evening concerts where the square is transformed into a ‘grand romantic open air concert hall’ . Those unable to attend can watch the concert ‘live’ at cinemas across the world on 13th July. You can find a cinema near you on CinemaLive.
Andre Rieu has been described as the Waltz King. Fusing traditional classical music with contemporary verve, the Johann Strauss Orchestra are pacesetters in tapping into the spirit of the times. They have carved a niche for themselves and have become hugely successful in reaching a vast number of music lovers of diverse backgrounds.
Here’s a small sampling of their work which I greatly admire.
With the Harlem Gospel Choir and the Soweto Gospel Choir Live in Maastricht 2011 (Amen)
Auld Lang Syne
Words for Auld Lang Syne (Poem by Robert Burns in 1788)
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old long syne.
- On Old long syne my Jo,
On Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On Old long syne.
Enjoy ‘Live in Maastricht’!
Caine Prize (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Miracle by Tope Folarin Wins the Caine Prize for African Writing 2013
By Veronica Nkwocha
Two words, ‘Tope Folarin’ tweeted by @CainePrize at 10:20 PM on 8 July 2013 cut through the tense wait of thousands of lovers of literature. It proclaimed ‘Miracle’ from Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012) as the winning entry for the Caine Prize for African Writing 2013.
A well-crafted story, ‘Miracle’ shows an attention to detail that takes the reader on a panoramic journey into the scene where it all played out. The underlying satire was well nuanced and nudges the reader to hover between viewing it as a legitimate experience or a mocking condescending piece (See No.2 ‘Renounce Your Faith). The latter was tempered with the apparent youth of the main character plus a sensitive portrayal and the former, seared-in with the excellent storytelling.
There were some unforgettable quotes, e.g.
“We need jobs. We need good grades. We need green cards. We need American passports. We need our parents to understand that we are Americans. We need our children to understand they are Nigerians”.
The highlighted words bring life to the unconscious struggle between two generations uprooted from a faraway homeland; a typical experience in the diaspora normally shrouded from view, the coming together constantly at tenterhooks. Tope Folarin has spoken of his experience as an African born and raised in America, the effects of the community in diaspora recreating their roots in their new homeland and how it influenced his writing. A detailed interview appears on Brittle Paper.
From the Caine Prize Website;
“…the winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize will be given the opportunity to take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and will be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September.”
Hearty congratulations to Tope Folarin, the fourteenth winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. We wish him all the best and look forward to reading more of his work.
Do you love history? Not the long winded drone of a stifling hot afternoon of class with the four walls closing in (okay, for some maybe not just History but all subjects!).
There’s ‘The Nigerian Nostalgia Project’ on Facebook. It provides compact, highly visual and informative history lessons by way of old photographs properly captioned and a conversation as people from diverse backgrounds comment and sometimes have hearty debates on the issues surrounding the subject. They can get lively so be warned, it may start from the benign to the controversial and can feel like one is on a roller coaster but it all serves to drive home important lessons of the old days including context, hindsight and a struggle/conflict in attempting to visualise the past using today’s eyes. Ethnic rivalries rise to the fore and simmer and handshakes form across ‘ancient’ miles as today’s youth (and sometimes participants of history from the recent past!) come together via the comment box, lingering, sizing one another up, gladiators in a timeless conflict and then as brothers as they find their common humanity.
I recommend the Nigerian Nostalgia Project, it is a treasure trove of photos of the past. Their greatest arsenal are the everyday people who post photos of life as it happened for normal day to day people, interwoven with photos of milestones as history turned in pivotal and candescent points. All of them important as the puzzle of the time period is put together for the next generation lovingly and reverently by the ‘children’ of the subjects working together in ways that would surprise the sleeping progenitors, could they see, from the dusk of their time.
*Image of Ancient Benin City from here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_Benin_city.JPG D. O. Dapper, 1668 Description de l’Afrique . . . Traduite du Flamand (Amsterdam,1686; 1st ed., 1668), between pp. 320-21. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-30841) Public Domain
Best of Luck to the Authors in the Caine Prize Shortlist 2013
By Veronica Nkwocha
*Update: ‘Miracle’ by Tope Folarin has won the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing! Congratulations and we wish him all the best.
I’ve enjoyed reading the Caine Prize shortlist this past month. My reviews have been from the perspective of a reader more focused on the story, than the flaws on the storytelling (I highlighted a few), although I acknowledge that the quality of the telling does mar or make the story. Most important to me was its integrity and believability, and whether the words formed into themselves, until they became a symbiotic whole, like one thriving and living organism.
When I joined the ‘blog carnival’ per Aaron Bady, I only knew of Elnathan John as I had read his blog in the past and admire his writing; ‘Bayan Layi’ drew me into the tale. I realised later that a short story ‘Runs Girl’ I had recently discovered and enjoyed immensely was written by Chinelo Okparanta; her ‘America’ was confident and intuitive. I’m better for discovering the cheeky wit that came across like an undercurrent from the telling of the character in ‘Miracle’ of Tope Folarin, the gregarious but pugnacious confidence of ‘Logan’ in ‘Foreign Aid’ per Pedi Hollist and the lyrical sweetness of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim‘s ‘The Whispering Trees’. I look forward to reading more of their work in the future and wish them all the best on the 8th of July when the prize is announced. I have my favourites but I believe they are all deserving as each one brought something different that adds to the discourse and the enjoyment of today’s literature.
The criticism of the ‘one-dimensional’ aspect of the ‘Caine Prize Story‘ is a challenge to writers to write a wide variety of stories, a lot of them already do so. It’s an even bigger challenge to publishers, prizes etc. but the solution is not to squash the stories of ‘poverty porn’ as some describe it. An increase in the number of publishers and prizes should allow the ‘African Story‘ rise beyond the pull between two extremes; each valid and each vital, begging to be told.